Doyle Strikes Gold in Belgian Para Open

With the end of the Rio qualification period drawing near, opportunities for Irish players to qualify are reducing.  Following the publication of the most recent world-ranking list, Rena McCarron Rooney and Colin Judge were the only players with any chance of qualifying.  While Rena gave the Belgian Open a miss, Colin decided to play one last tournament in his attempt to qualify.

Colin was accompanied by Dublin’s Christine Doyle, who was playing her first international tournament of the year.  Both began the tournament with their respective singles events.

Despite beating the 20th player in the world ranking list (Nobuhiro Minami from Japan) as well as a number of lesser players, Colin finished outside the medals, ending his hopes of qualifying for Rio.  Chris fared better, picking up gold with some very good wins.

Once the singles was over, the team event began.  Colin paired up with Christian Sieber from Switzerland in the class 3 event while Christine teamed with Yoon Jiyu from Korea.  Both players played exceptionally well and had some outstanding wins.  While Colin didn’t manage to qualify for the knockout stages, Christine and Yoon easily qualified and went on to win gold.  This represented double gold for both Christine and Yoon, both having earlier won gold in their respective singles events.

National Coach Ronan Rooney was full of praise for both players following their performances.  “Colin has had a really tough year, having played almost 10 international events.  While he has not achieved his goal of Rio qualification, he has significantly improved his ranking and is a very real prospect for Tokyo in 2020.  Chris had an excellent tournament here in Belgium, and it makes you wonder what she might have achieved had she attempted to qualify for Rio.”

There remains one international Para tournament for Ireland before the qualification window closes at the end of the year.  Rena McCarron Rooney will play her last tournament in Costa Rica in December and if she maintains her current ranking, she will be Ireland’s sole table tennis qualifier for the Rio Paralympics in 2016.